West Liberty University was home to the Topper-SURE program for 15 undergraduate student researchers this summer from June 2 – July 31. Students conducted research with faculty mentors from the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and practiced skills designed to increase their success in graduate school and the professional world post-commencement.

“This was a very successful summer experience for our students and we are grateful for the support of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research and the grant that funded the Topper-SURE program,” said Dean Robert Kreisberg of the College of Sciences. “Research is the number one component to building a successful career in science. Our SURE program included hands-on research plus career mentoring that is vital for student success.”

Science majors are shown working on research in the field during the SURE program.

Science majors are shown working on research in the field with Dr. Zach Loughman during the SURE program.

The program ended with a July 31, 2014 SURE Symposium, during which students presented their individual research projects during a poster presentation in the newly opened Campbell Hall of Health Sciences. Faculty mentors also described the summer research projects and answered questions from the audience.

Student researchers were all biology or chemistry majors and included:

Rebecca Barnes and Spencer Bell, Wheeling, WV; Joshua Benfield, Bethany, WV; Leah Cyrus, Columbiana, Ohio; Zachary Dillard, Craigsville, W.Va.; Matthew Ford, Chester, W.Va.; Ashley Haught, Moundsville, W.Va.; Jillian Laslo, Shadyside, Ohio; Taylor Rogerson, Moundsville, W.Va.; Luke Sadecky and Nicole Sadecky, Ravenswood, W.Va.; Eric Tennant, Wellsburg, W.Va.; Eric Tidmore, Tiltonsville, Ohio; Nicole Turner, St. Clairsville, Ohio and Katelyn Yauch, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Project areas include bacterial pathogenesis/microbiology, crayfish biodiversity, skull morphometrics and environmental chemistry. Faculty mentors included: Assistant Professors of Biology Dr. Joseph Horzempa, Dr. Karen Kettler, Dr. Zachary J. Loughman, Dr. Matthew Zdilla and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Douglas Swartz. Kettler also was the overall director of the summer research program.

All SURE participants presented their findings at the WLU SURE symposium and will have a chance to continue their presentations at other venues throughout the state, country and internationally. Students also received a $3,000 stipend for their efforts.

Funding for the Topper-SURE program was provided by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research through the Research Challenge Fund, under the direction of Dr. Jan R. Taylor.

For more information on the program, please visit the College of Sciences webpage.